What Is a Hybrid Car?

by R.L. Cultrona

Recognizing the depletion of fossil fuels and our excessive dependence on oil for energy, auto makers have begun to make strides toward developing vehicles that use other sources for their energy, such as hydrogen and electricity. The hybrid car is their first successful product in this line.

What is a Hybrid

A hybrid car represents the marriage of the combustible gas engine and the electric engine. Often able to go twice the distance as a conventional car on a single tank of gas, the hybrid also gives out far fewer emissions.

How a Hybrid Car Works

The hybrid car has a high-powered battery which fuels the vehicle, either on its own at low speeds or in conjunction with the gasoline engine. In a full hybrid, the electric engine is capable of driving the car at low speeds (usually for city driving) until more power is needed and the gas engine kicks in. A mild hybrid uses both the gasoline and electric engine together to get more mileage out of the vehicle. The battery is continually recharged through braking and the use of the gas engine.

Advantages of a Hybrid

Not only does the hybrid produce fewer emission and get you better fuel economy - it also earns state and federal tax credits. Also, as more hybrids come into use, the demand for foreign oil is likely to decrease, which might bring down fuel prices.

Disadvantages of a Hybrid

Hybrid cars often cost more than conventional hybrid vehicles, anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. The cars are heavier due to the battery packs. There may be some additional fees for registration in some states. Accidents are more dangerous as there is an additional risk of exposure to high voltage wires. They have a lower acceleration than other cars. Finally, they can only be worked on by especially trained mechanics as they have extremely complicated systems.

Battery Life

Since the battery is continually being recharged, it has a life of about eight years, which is probably enough to cover your term of owning the vehicle. The batteries have vents which allow them to keep cool in warm climates and while there is a slight loss of power in cold climates, this vanishes after the batteries warm up.

About the Author

R.L. Cultrona is a San Diego native and a graduate of San Diego State University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater, television and film with a minor in communications and political science. She began writing online instructional articles in June 2009.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera http://www.flickr.com/photos/six27 CC BY 2.0